Green Power refers to electricity supplied from renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, and biomass. With rising oil prices and an increasing demand for clean energy, renewable energy sources have been growing rapidly in recent years. Wind power, for example, has tripled in capacity since 1998 and is the fastest growing energy source in the world. The liberalization of power markets combined with regulated utilities developing green pricing systems has given electricity customers the option to buy green power.
In fact, according to the Department of Energy, more than 50% of retail customers in the United States now have an option of purchasing green power directly from their electricity supplier, and an estimated 360,000 residential customers across many states have chosen to purchase green power.
Retail electricity competition allows alternative electricity suppliers to compete. In states that have liberalized their power markets and implemented electricity competition, green power can be purchased from electricity providers that support renewable energy in their power portfolio.
Even if your state has not opened its power markets to competition, you may still be able to purchase green power through your regulated utility. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, more than 600 regulated utilities spanning more than 30 states offer "green pricing" programs. Green pricing allows electricity customers to support a greater level of investment in renewable energy by paying a premium on their electric bill to cover any costs exceeding those of conventional power generation.
Green power is not available everywhere. Renewable energy certificates, also known as green tags, allow people to purchase the environmental attributes of green power no matter where it is produced, thus supporting renewable energy whether or not they have access to a green power supplier.
Renewable energy has typically been more expensive than conventional power sources. These higher costs are largely due to the relative immaturity of renewable technologies and their concentration in niche markets, compared with conventional energy sources. Nonetheless, despite the currently higher prices, the cost of renewable energy is falling as the growing demand justifies the expansion of manufacturing facilities and reduces production costs. Several renewable power technologies are now nearly cost-competitive with conventional sources.
Although purchasing green power often presents a cost premium, green power provides a number of long-term financial benefits such as electricity price stability. Most green power is not vulnerable to fuel supply disruptions and thus contributes to reliability of power supplies.
Quick Web Links
EPA's Green Power Profiler - the cost of Green Power in your region
All renewable energy is originally derived from solar energy. Whether in the form of heat-driven wind currents or evaporation-fueled streams, energy from the sun makes renewable energy essentially infinite and clean. By purchasing green power you can support increased development of renewable energy sources and reduce pollution associated with conventional power sources.
According the Department of Energy, the United States is the world's largest single emitter of carbon dioxide, accounting for 23 percent of energy-related carbon emissions worldwide. Power plants account for over one third of climate change related greenhouse gases. Purchasing Green Power displaces more polluting power sources. Exact pollution reduction is based on the power supply mix your electricity supplier currently uses.
Quick Web Links
EPA's Green Power Profiler - how green is your power?
U.S. Department of Energy's Green Power Network provides information on utility green pricing, buying green power, renewable energy certificates, different state policies and financial opportunities.
Web site: http://apps3.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/
The Guide to Purchasing Green Power provides an overview of green power markets and describes the necessary steps to buying green power.
EPA's Green Power Locator allows you to click on your state to find information about green power options available to you.
Web site: http://www.epa.gov/greenpower/pubs/gplocator.htm
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory's website provides information on the different forms of renewable energy including costs and benefits.